Top Ten Lessons Elephant & Piggie Have Taught Us by Jen Terry & Jacquie Eckert
Elephant & Piggie books are favorites amongst our classrooms of readers. They are picked up and read and shared and shared again each day. Not only do Elephant & Piggie books make us laugh out loud, they also cleverly teach us lessons. Children’s picture books are a key component in helping kids connect to authentic learning experiences and Elephant and Piggie capture that authenticity as they teach, inspire and help kids grow.
We’ve found many lessons that Elephant & Piggie share with readers.
I’m a Frog
“Pretending is when you act like something you are not.”
“You can just go out and pretend to be something you are not!?”
“Sure. Everyone pretends.”
“Even grown-up people?”
“All the time.”
Elephant & Piggie teach us to use our imagination to pretend to be anything we want. Everyone pretends – even adults! Imagining is a big part of childhood and who better to imagine with than Elephant and Piggie. Piggie teaches Gerald something he is not sure about, but by trusting his friend he takes a risk and learns something different and finds out he can do it and has fun.
My New Friend is So Fun
“If they are having that much fun together, then … maybe they do not need us.”
“Have fun with your new friend.”
Elephant & Piggie teach us to trust our friendships and that we can have more than one friend. All the Elephant and Piggie books talk about friendship. Children quickly learn that Piggie is the creative risk taker and that Gerald is the cautious, compassionate friend. Each adventure is filled with play, problem solving, and the sharing of friendship.
- Think Outside the Box
Can I Play Too?
“This is not working.”
“We need a new idea…”
Mistakes are good! Elephant & Piggie teach us if you’re not having success with something you can work together and try another way. Children need to be flexible thinkers and that if one way doesn’t work color outside of the lines and collaborate with others to come up with a new way.
- Accepting Help
Today I Will Fly
“I am not flying!”
“You are not flying?”
“I am getting help.”
Elephant & Piggie teach us that sometimes we need to ask for help and it is ok to accept help from others to reach our goals. It is impossible for kids to investigate, create or imagine without asking questions or wondering.
- Positive Outlook
Are You Ready to Play Outside?
“Maybe we can have fun, too …”
“We can try.”
Elephant & Piggie teach us to look for the fun in every situation, even if we cannot see it at first.
Watch Me Throw The Ball
“You are right, Gerald. I did not really throw the ball very far.”
“But, I had fun!”
“La, la, la!”
Piggie teaches us you might not be great at everything, but you can have fun doing anything.
- Team Work
A Big Guy Took My Ball
“With a little help,”
“we can all have”
Elephant & Piggie teach us our differences can be strengths when we work together. At first Piggie thinks his ball is stolen, but in the end it turns out that everyone can have fun together by sharing and making up a new game.
Elephants Can’t Dance
“Gerald, it does not say that you cannot try!”
Elephant & Piggie teach us even if someone tells you that you cannot do something you can always try. You can persevere and have success. Kids can do hard things. It might not always be easy but with friends and a positive mindset – you can do it!
- Be Flexible
Let’s Go For a Drive
“Our plans are ruined.”
“WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW!?!”
“We could play “Pirate.”
Sometimes things do not go as planned, in life and in stories. Elephant & Piggie teach us if something is not working it’s ok to have other ideas and try something else. Friends need to know that their idea is not always going to work. They need to be open and able to compromise.
Waiting is Not Easy
Piggie has something to share with Gerald, but he must wait. Gerald does NOT like waiting. His long and loud groans in this book keep readers laughing as they think and talk about how hard it is to wait for something. In the end Gerald says it’s worth the wait and love Piggie’s surprise. It’s hard to wait sometimes, but being patient can bring awesome surprises into our lives.
There is a Bird on Your Head
Piggie is always patient with Gerald when he yells at her and worries about her. Piggie helps Gerald through a hard ordeal and even though he is not happy with the end outcome it still a friend in the end and you know Gerald is going to help Piggie through it too.
- Don’t waffle
Should I Share My Ice Cream?
When Gerald takes so much time wondering if he should share his ice cream but then takes too long and it is melted. Then Piggie in return teaches us to think of others and always has Gerald’s back. This book has a great lesson in sharing and making decisions. Readers love seeing Piggie and Elephant’s friendship in this book as they think of each other and do something nice for each other.
All in all Elephant and Piggie teach children that reading is fun. Whether through the simplest mark on Piggie’s face or the way Gerald thinks of his friend Piggie, or the one word repeated over and over with different punctuation — Mo knows children. In any Elephant and Piggie book you will find a tool to help you with any problem and most of the time it is just to have fun with a book. Which is of course the most important part of good literature – it to read just to read.
Our Top 5 Favorite Places to Find Pigeon
- Watch Me Throw the Ball!
- There’s a Bird on Your Head!
- We Are in a Book!
- My New Friend Is So Fun!
- Happy Pig Day!
Pigeon only appears in the text of one Elephant & Piggie Book. Can you find him?
Jen Terry & Jacquie Eckert teach together in Cedar Hills, Utah. Together they have taught kindergarten, first and second grades. They are true book nerds and love to spend their time and money to catch good books to share with each other, readers in their classrooms & friends online. They pretend to blog about books at thebookcatchers.com and sometimes remember to post pictures on Instagram as @thebookcatchers.
This is awesome! Who knew Elephant and Piggie could teach us so much? Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for this marvelous post. I have long loved Elephant and Piggie (and everything else Mo Willems writes), but had not thought of them as “life coaches.” Silly me.
Simplicity often provides the deepest lessons.
Great post! Something every librarian and teacher can use. Can’t wait to pass it on!
I loved this article, and your fine summary of each of these Elephant and Piggie books. I have used many of them this way with my students, but your summaries were magnificent and I am inspired in some great new ways. These books are probably one of the favorites in our library, and with good reason.
Elephant and Piggie are characters that all kids and adults can connect with. Great post!!
My daughter came home from kindergarten one day and asked to be taken to the library to look for some Mo Willems books. I was sure she had mis-remembered the author’s name, but she was correct. Her teacher also used the books to teach a lot about text and illustration conventions. Big letters for louder voices, squiggly lines over the head to show anger, etc. The books also lure children into reading out loud without even noticing! So wonderful.
Gotta love Elephant and Piggie! They’re always on demand at the Orem Library 🙂
There is so much to learn from a simple book just by looking at the pages and reading few words. All of these books come with lessons.
Elephant and Piggie–always a joy!
We LOVE Elephant and Piggie in this house. Thanks for providing some new lenses to look at these books through. (BTW: Waiting is NOT Easy is a favorite around here. Patience IS a virtue, isn’t it?)
I just love these books! They take everybody back to their childhood.
Reblogged this on Hermione's Knapsack and commented:
I love Elephant and Piggie , they are my favorite Mo Willem books. And yes, they do teach you important things, in hilarious ways. Plus they are awesome to read aloud and I will keep trying to read them to Toddlers at storytime even if they don’t always get the jokes at that age.
We love Elephant and Piggie in our house. Our absolute favorite has been “I am a Frog”. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve read it and our boys love the fact that Elephant and Piggie point out that even grown-ups pretend to be something they’re not all the time.
Love Mo Willems books. What’s wonderful about them is that you don’t have to be a child to enjoy them. Each one is a LOL treasure. This is a great post. Thanks!